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In Masechet Sotah, 20a, the mishna details harmful forces and reads (translation from dafyomi.co.il)

The following destroy the world - a foolish Chasid, a crafty evildoer, a woman who is Perushah, and the afflictions of Perushim.

The gemara on 22b expands on this and quotes a Braita which reads

(Mishnah): Blows of Perushim... (Beraisa): There are seven types of (improper) Perushim: Shichmi, Nakfi, Kizai, mi'Duchya, one who says 'what is my obligation? I will do it!', from love, and from fear.

But the website inserts the word "improper" into this -- according to the text, there simply are 7 types of Perushim and all 7 are bad. Later there is a defense of 2 of the types, but the defense (mitoch shelo lishma, ba lishma) doesn't mitigate the fact that all 7 groups, which might constitute the entire perushi population, don't act in a desirable way:

(Abaye and Rava): From love and fear (of reward or punishment) should not be taught (for these are praiseworthy)! 1.(Rav Yehudah): One should always engage in Torah and Mitzvos, even Lo Lishmah (with ulterior motives), for this will lead him to do them Lishmah (to become close to Hash-m).

[Side note -- this defense could easily be applied to all 7 groups though it isn't, and the dafyomi site inserts "for these are praiseworthy)"]

The Yerushalmi Berachot, chapt 9 halacha 5 says that "none is as beloved to [God] as the Parush due to love, like Abraham." This would indicate that there is one positive group of perushim and all the rest are negative.

I know that the word Perushi is used to apply to different groups in different contexts, but does the Bavli ever associate the Perushim with the Rabbinic/Oral Law adherents that other texts call Pharisees and which are a positive group, or does the gemara consider the Perushim just an ascetic group that is worthy of being condemned?

Though they are sometimes characterized as ones strict in adherence to the law (Shabbat 13a) this is not praising their intentions, just observable behavior. There is a reference in Vayikra Rabbah that equates Perushim with Kedoshim but the gemara doesn't make that connection.

According to the Bavli, are there only 7 types of Perushim (all bad and distinct from the Jews who are admirable) or are there just 7 types of improper ones implying an entire population of "good ones" which would be the "Pharisees" that other texts have connected with modern day Judaism, not included in these 7 groups?


I note a Sadducee tag but no Pharisee tag.

  • Somewhat related answer: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/41040. See also Kiddushin 66a, which identifies the p'rushim as the Sages. – Fred Aug 12 '16 at 17:41
  • I have a feeling that your question has something to do with interest in the classical Christian connotation to the word "Pharisee..." Just a thought. – ezra Aug 12 '16 at 17:53
  • Also, the translation is correct to clarify the meaning by adding the word "improper"; the gemara later on in Sotah 22b implies that the previous list of seven basically refers to the fake p'rushim, as opposed to the real p'rushim who were the Sages ("אמר לה ינאי מלכא לדביתיה אל תתיראי מן הפרושין ולא ממי שאינן פרושין אלא מן הצבועין שדומין לפרושין שמעשיהן כמעשה זמרי ומבקשין שכר כפנחס"). – Fred Aug 12 '16 at 19:33
  • @Fred yes, I had seen that but was hoping for a more explicit explanation of prushim than just in contradictinction to tzevu'in. – rosends Aug 12 '16 at 19:39
  • 2
    You forgot Mishnayot masechet Yadayim mishna 6 - 8 – kouty Aug 14 '16 at 10:30

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